book review

Messes With Your Mind | Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

Friday, September 21, 2018

Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 9/25/18
Pages: 384
Source: NetGalley (Thank you, Harlequin Teen!)
At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in 1951 shouldn't be--independent, rebellious, a dreamer. June longs to travel, to attend college and to write the dark science fiction stories that consume her waking hours. But her parents only care about making June a better young woman. Her mother grooms her to be a perfect little homemaker while her father pushes her to marry his business partner's domineering son. When June resists, her whole world is shattered--suburbia isn't the only prison for different women. June's parents commit her to Burrow Place Asylum, aka the Institution. With its sickening conditions, terrifying staff and brutal "medical treatments," the Institution preys on June's darkest secrets and deepest fears. And she's not alone. The Institution terrorizes June's fragile roommate, Eleanor, and the other women locked away within its crumbling walls. Those who dare speak up disappear...or worse. Trapped between a gruesome reality and increasingly sinister hallucinations, June isn't sure where her nightmares end and real life begins. But she does know one thing: in order to survive, she must destroy the Institution before it finally claims them all.
June is content with staying in her room and writing all day. Her mother has other plans. In order to make June into a perfect woman, she must learn how to cook, slave over her brother’s and dad’s every whim, and fall in love with a financially stable man. Obsessed with writing her alien abduction story, June plans to escape and live the way she wants. However, when her escape turns sour, her parents send her to an awful asylum. And nothing is as it seems. All June ever wanted was to be free. Nightingale is a crazy whirlwind that will leave you shocked.

  • Going into Nightingale, I was expecting ghosts or other paranormal activity, leaning more towards the horror genre. Instead, Nightingale is more of a science fiction, delving into the unknown. Nightingale is extremely compelling. Science fiction has never been my favorite but this page turner has a way of gripping you right in.
  • The 1950s setting gives the book the perfect atmosphere. Lukavics explores extreme gender roles. Nightingale will be sure to start discussions when June’s mother explains her desire in making June the perfect woman. All June wanted was to escape suffocating societal rules, gender roles, and doing what's always expected of her. She doesn’t want a future that's already mapped out for her, on the road to becoming the perfect woman, the perfect wife. She’s the type to color outside the lines and readers will absolutely love her narrative. 
shutter island GIF
  • Nightingale is a YA Shutter Island. With monsters in dark tunnels and things pretending to be humans, Nightingale is sure to haunt both your waking hours and your dreams. June is an unreliable narrator of the best kind. She constantly doubts her actions, her thoughts, and even her own eyes. Readers will trust June in her assessment one moment and the next, shaking their head at the absurdity of it. The book messes with readers’ minds. Readers will not know what to think. 
  • It does showcase a female/female romance which is appreciated. However, since the relationship is not the main focus of the work, it seems underdeveloped and superficial. 
  • Amy Lukavics is an incredible writer. The careful structure of the book mixes with the imaginative descriptions that jump off the page. Lukavics takes readers back and forth in time, explaining June's present life in the asylum and her past, leading up to the asylum. Despite sounding a bit confusing, the structure is quite brilliant. Lukavics only reveals so much at any given point, leaving readers curious to know more. 
  • The descriptions are cringe worthy, gruesome even. June becomes obsessed over writing detailed torture scenes of her own protagonist. It gets quite gory. If you are a queasy reader, this one may not be for you.
  • The ending leaves something to be desired. It took a direction no reader will foresee. However, this unpredictability quickly turns unbelievable and too ridiculous.

Nightingale was gruesome, undeniably entertaining, setting a terrifying atmosphere you will definitely want to read during autumn.

Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: September 2018

Friday, September 07, 2018


Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. I was so inspired by booktuber’s, BooksandLala, Closet Unhaul series to tackle my own TBR in a similar method. I'm going to challenge myself to read books from my old hauls and if I can’t complete them within the month, I must unhaul them the next month. Also, any readathons or other challenges for the month will also be posted in this monthly post.



After BookExpo this year, I reorganized all my shelves and came to a frightening conclusion. I own about 550 unread books. Oh, my. That’s a lot of books!

To make myself feel a little better, I do own more read books than unread books so there’s that. However, my TBR pile has gotten a bit out of hand and I’ve been trying to come up with a way to tackle it.

Finally, I discovered a method that I would like to try. Recently, I found BooksandLala on Youtube. She’s an amazing Booktuber and if you haven’t seen her videos, you should definitely check them out. I came across her Closet Unhaul series where she reacts to her book hauls from a year prior and takes note of which books she’s read, unhauled, or still need to read. With the books she still needs to read, she’ll add those books to her TBR for that month. Yet, if she doesn’t read those books in that particular month, she must unhaul them. It’s a fantastic idea and will definitely help tackle some of my TBR too!

Inspired by BooksandLala’s Closet Unhaul series, I’m going to start tackling my books one month at a time. To keep myself accountable, I’ll be posting my TBR at the beginning of every month. Unlike BooksandLala, I do not have book hauls to react to so I’ll be using my Goodreads. On Goodreads, you can sort books by “want to read” and “date added.” I’m starting on the oldest books on my shelf; these are from my December 2009 and April 2010 book haul:



Three books to start off this challenge is a good number. Though I just realized that all those supernatural/paranormal books that I've been putting off reading will now show up. But it will be exciting to move these to the read shelf. For now, I don't plan on unhauling these right off. Actually, I own the entire Strange Angels series so I hope to read Betrayals by Lili St. Crow before the month is out. I adore everything L.J. Smith writes, starting with her Vampire Diaries series but I've been putting off Dark Visions because it totals around 700-something pages. Yikes! And I have no excuse for not reading Elizabeth Scott's Perfect You yet. (It was way in the back of my bookshelf...)

To see if I get to these books this month or they have to be unhauled, be sure to check out my wrap up at the end of the month!

The goal is to get my TBR down to under 100 books. Since for the past few years, I’ve been reading about 100 books per year, keeping my TBR down to under 100 seems a manageable number. Let’s make this happen.  

Contemporary-a-thon

I’ve only ever participated in one readathon ever and it’s most definitely time for another. I was searching the web for a new, fun readathon to join and came across Contemporary-a-thon. Contemporary-a-thon is hosted by booktubers: ChelseaDolingReads, Pages and Pens, and MyReadingisOdd. Here’s the announcement and challenges for the readathon. This readathon takes place between September 17th to the 23rd. Participants have to read all contemporary novels. There are 7 challenges for the readathon. Being a bit ambitious, I picked out 7 books and I couldn’t have been more excited for the readathon to start! Here’s the challenges and books I plan to read to complete each one:


1. Read a contemporary with orange on the cover: Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith
2. Read a dark/spooky contemporary: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
3. Read a diverse contemporary: My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma
4. Read a contemporary in a non-traditional format: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


5. Read a contemporary that has your initials somewhere on the cover: Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll
6. Read a contemporary from a new to you author: Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
7. Read a contemporary that is a 5 star prediction: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

What do you plan to read this month? Do you have a method for tackling your TBR?

kickin' it

Kickin' It: August 2018 Wrap Up

Wednesday, September 05, 2018


Kickin’ It is a feature at The Bucket List where I round-up the whole month in one post, bringing you reviews you may have missed, other awesome bookish things, and even what I’m currently obsessed with in other media besides books. August, so far, has been my second best reading month. It was much too hot outside so being inside with an iced tea and magnificent air conditioning was the ideal this month. I was able to get 14 books done and surprised even myself when I went on a library binge and ordered some books I’ve been reading to read before purchasing. So, while my owned TBR yelled at me from their shelves, I got some other great books done.

Here’s my August recap:


I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo (4 stars): Kdrama and books! Why has no one ever done this before? It was absolutely amazing! At times, a bit crazy but I enjoyed all the kdrama references. 

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan (4 stars): I love some obscure retellings—the world needs more King Midas retellings. The story follows King Midas’s daughter as she embarks on an adventure to save her father. It was so much fun! And there’s pirates: automatic win!

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (4 stars): I really enjoyed this one. The writing was fantastic! It opens an important discussion that everyone needs to be a part of. 

When by Daniel H. Pink (4 stars): After reading Drive for class a few years ago, I wanted to check out his newest release. It’s unbelievable how much time affects our productivity. This book is filled with bite-sized, awesome facts about time that you didn’t even know you wanted to know.


The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (4 stars): I’m over dystopian. I just have no more interest in reading it. Though I wanted to give this one a go because Bracken did so well with her time travel adventure, Passenger. And I really liked this one. It reminded me a lot of Push where the characters were all given different powers and their going up against some evil. Surprisingly, I will be continuing in this series because I’m so invested now that I must know what happens!

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (4.5 stars): I picked this one up at the library on a whim and found a few days after that it is being adapted into a television show. I thought its goal was to find out who the miniaturist is. Instead, the book is more about the journey of our protagonist making her own way through her new marriage. Despite thinking it was one thing when it turned out to be another, The Miniaturist turned out to be one of my favorites of the month! 

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (4 stars): I had the highest expectations for this one. It didn’t quite disappoint but I did like A Darker Shade of Magic a bit better. I found this sequel to be a filler episode of what Schwab has been building. Whereas the first book focused on plot, this one took a step back to develop the characters. It was remarkably written and every scene with Kell and Lila together was so adorable!

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (5 stars): The only one with 5 stars this month! I don’t know what its been this year but maybe I’m starting to get picky about my 5 star books. Anyway, this book was such a gem. It follows Darius who travels to Iran with his family to go see his ailing grandfather. Its such an important and powerful coming of age story!


The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (3 stars): I’m not too crazy about magical realism. However, Gaiman gave me the genre in a very small form, totaling around 250 pages. It was compelling and interesting. The narrator, a young boy of 7 years old, painted an imaginative world.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2 stars): In anticipation of the Netflix adaptation, I read this one. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it despite reading all of the marvelous 4- and 5-star reviews on Goodreads. The book is told entirely through letters which creates a disconnect between the large cast of characters and its reader. It was a bit slow. I went in hoping for a romance but got very little of that.

Lucky in Love by Kasie West (2.5 stars): My least favorite Kasie West ever, I’m sad to say. I read Kasie West for the romance and besides the last 50 pages or so, there was little romance. No, instead readers sit through the aftermath when a newly-turned 18-year-old wins the lottery and buys it on a long list of rather dumb items. 

The Dire King by William Ritter (4 stars): The finale of the Jackaby series was everything I hoped it would be and more!


The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (3.5 stars): This one has been sitting on my shelves for such a long time. Having seen the movie adaptation, I knew how it was going to end and I wasn’t ready for the heartache. I didn’t really care for the writing and, at times, the timeline did confuse me. However, the premise and plot were well-thought out. 

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (3.5 stars): Another book that has been sitting on my shelf for years. It wasn’t my favorite contemporary of Johnson’s but I enjoyed the setting: the protagonist lives in a New York City hotel. It was lots of fun!


A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan | Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram | Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch



Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll (9/18/18): I’ve been counting down the days until I get a chance to read this one. A group of people all work together at a shop that sells unclaimed baggage from airports. Their lives become intertwined and unpacked.

Black Wings Beating by Alex London (9/25/18): Twins journey to find the one thing they believe will stop the war. It sounds like this book has a little bit for everyone!

Nightingale by Amy Lukavics (9/25/18): When June tries to rebel, her parents place her in an asylum, hoping to reform her. This sounds like the perfect read to start off my creepy reads of October.


August was the month of movies! I started off the month with watching the newest Mission Impossible movie and it truly sets the bar for action movies from here on. After reading The Darkest Minds, I immediately got tickets to see the movie and it was so disappointing. However, I easily fell in love with Crazy Rich Asians. I’ve already seen it twice. In anticipation, I read the book last month and cannot wait to continue the rest of the series. Also, I was finally able to catch a showing of Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again and it was so much fun! And on Netflix, I could watch To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on repeat, it was so adorable. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was, happily, very different from the book. Overall, my month was filled with good books and movies!

to all the boys tatbilb GIF by NETFLIX

How was your August? What books did you read? Did you watch any shows/movies?

Top Ten Tuesday

10 TV Shows I'm Watching When I'm Not Reading

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

It's a shocker, I know. There are times when I am not reading. When I'm not reading, working, or blogging, you can most likely find me watching TV.

There are so many amazing shows out. And I just got Netflix a few months ago and that's like an entirely different world. From what I understand, I've been living under a rock without Netflix. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is: 10 TV Shows I'm Watching When I'm Not Reading:

Supernatural

scared GIF

I've been a fan since I came across it when they were airing season 4. Now it's on its 100th season, right? I think they're really on their 15th season so I need to definitely catch up. It's about two brothers who hunt supernatural beings and occasionally save the world. As much as the plot sometimes gets repetitive, I stay for the fantastic, well-developed characters that I've loved since day one.

Black Mirror

NETFLIX black mirror GIF

I'm back in season 3 and taking my time with the episodes. Each episode is a look into a real-to-life future with technology that may not be the best step forward for humanity. There's always a lot to unpack and the show is not afraid to get intense and dark. 

Mr. Robot

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Speaking of getting dark, Mr. Robot is the winner. The show centers around a computer hacker intent on bringing down an evil corporation. He's an unreliable narrator that keeps you guessing at every turn. It's storytelling at its best.

Jane the Virgin

dramatic jane the virgin GIF

In a completely different direction than the shows above, this one brings some major drama to the screen. Plus, it will have you laughing the whole episode long. I'm currently watching the third season. Yet, the first season is about Jane who is accidentally artificially inseminated with her crush's baby. And you can only imagine how it follows from there.

9-1-1

fox tv help GIF by 9-1-1 on FOX

The second season is releasing this month and I cannot wait! The show follows a group of firemen and the life of a emergency operator. Each episode delves into one or two 9-1-1 calls and how these everyday heroes' lives are intertwined. Plus, Angela Bassett is a queen in this!

Release the Hounds

Image result for release the hounds

This reality game show is so much fun! Three contestants work together in a series of horror-related challenges to find keys that open chests filled with money. The only catch: the money is guarded by a pack of hounds.

Elementary

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I adore BBC's Sherlock. Yet, Elementary gives us Joan Watson and creates a male-female duo that is purely platonic. Love it!

Once Upon a Time

once upon a time dinosaur GIF by HULU

Just as I begin to watch the show again, they cancel it. I'm still not caught up though. The first season is about an evil queen who casts a spell on the Forbidden Forest, moving all the fairytale characters to our world. It's up to Emma and Henry, her son, to rescue the characters and set them free from the queen's wrath.

Outlander

season 3 starz GIF by Outlander

I adore how close the show is to the books. That is such a gift! Plus, seeing the scenes come to life on screen is fantastic! I haven't seen the newest season but I already know it's going to be as fantastic as all the rest. It follows a woman who, while traveling in Scotland, accidentally time travels and before she can even think of getting back to her time, she needs to survive the time she has fallen into. And don't forget about the lovely romance!

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

happy the cw GIF

This show is certainly crazy but each episode is a mini-musical, complete with original scores and songs. 

What shows are you watching?

book review

Awesome Golden Girl | A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

Friday, August 31, 2018

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

Publisher: Blink
Publication Date: 8/14/18
Pages: 313
Source: BEA
King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide. Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed. Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?
Ever since the day her father turned her into gold, Princess Kora has been urged to stay inside the palace, where the guards and other staff can ensure her safety. However, the palace funds are dangerously low. Her uncle proposes marriage between Kora and a neighboring royal may be the best form of action. Except every suitor runs away screaming at their first look at the golden girl. Until Aris, that is. When the king’s gold is stolen right under everyone’s nose, it’s up to Kora and Aris—with his fastest ship—to recover the gold and kill the thief.

  • A Touch of Gold is a fresh new take on the King Midas tale.
  • Kora is extremely headstrong, yet secretive. It takes a bit for readers to warm up to her and get to know more about her. Her secrets lie deep within the rumors strewn about her. It’s interesting to have the minor characters believe they know tons about Kora based on rumor when readers know very little about her, based on fact, until much later in the story. Kora’s intelligence and curiosity of the outside world gives her a certain edge. She is incredibly relatable. A lot of her powers when King Midas had accidentally turned her to gold is kept a secret. Each reveal is as surprising as the next. It definitely keeps readers on their toes, guessing where Sullivan will take it next. 
  • Aris' relationship with Kora seems way too insta-love. Since they hit it off quickly with their supposed similar family situation, Sullivan gives readers the impression that they've known each other forever when they've only just met. Since Kora is so isolated, she doesn’t have much experience in people showing an interest in her, thus the insta-love is to be expected.
  • The romance does not take center stage, in A Touch of Gold, which comes at a surprise but serves as a breath of fresh air. It focuses on its fun adventure of gathering the gold to save Kora’s father.

  • Almost every chapter ends in a perfect cliffhanger that makes it difficult to put down. It's a masterful story that weaves a retelling in a unique way. Sullivan, also, gives us some fantastic mythology along with the King Midas tale that I would have loved developed a bit more. 
  • Unexpectedly, the open seas and terrifying pirates make A Touch of Gold one amazing adventure.  Going into A Touch of Gold, I wasn’t expecting a pirate book at all but was astonished to find Sullivan’s work leaning in that direction when Kora and Aris track down the stolen gold for King Midas.
  • The writing is phenomenal. It’s fast paced in all the right places with nonstop action, unbelievable adventure and fantastic magic that keeps readers wanting more. The twists and turns measure in epic proportions. It’s one of those books that you could never guess what will happen next—who’s going to die, who’s going to get marooned, and who’s going to get the gold.
  • The ending is a wild ride that will leave your heart in knots. Pirates make books 100 times better and A Touch of Gold is no exception as Captain Skulls, the villain of the story, takes over the plot with conniving schemes that will make you clutch the book in fright. 
  • Sullivan hints at a sequel in the acknowledgments which I hope comes to fruition. A Touch of Gold was such a fantastic adventure that I would love to join Kora on her next big journey. 

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan is an adventure of a lifetime with scheming pirates, a girl of gold and twists that will leave you breathless. Fans of Blackhearts and Cinder will adore every minute of A Touch of Gold.